AGESILAUS II., king of Sparta, of the Eurypontid family, succeeded his step-brother Agis about 40r B.C. through the influence of Lysander. In 396 he led an expedition to Asia to secure the Greek cities against a Persian attack. Before sailing, he tried to offer a sacrifice at Aulis as Agamemnon had done before the Trojan expedition, and never forgave the Thebans for preventing him. During 396, Agesilaus made a profitable raid into Phrygia; in the following year he defeated Tissaphernes near Sardis and then ravaged the satrapy of Pharnabazus. It was said that he was planning a campaign in the interior when, to his deep regret, he was recalled to Greece owing to the war between Sparta and the combined forces of Athens, Thebes, Cor inth, Argos and several minor states. After a rapid march through Thrace and Macedonia he met the confederate forces at Coronea in Boeotia and in a fierce battle was technically victorious, but the success was a barren one and he had to retire to the Pelopon nese.
Agesilaus took a leading part in the Corinthian War, making successful expeditions into Corinthian territory, and capturing Lechaeum. But the destruction of a morn by Iphicrates neutral ized these successes, and Agesilaus returned to Sparta. In 387 the Peace of Antalcidas (q.v.), which was warmly supported by Agesilaus, put an end to hostilities. When war broke out afresh with Thebes the king twice invaded Boeotia (378, 3 7 7) and it was on his advice that Cleombrotus marched against Thebes in 371. Cleombrotus was defeated at Leuctra and the Spartan supremacy overthrown. In 3 7o Agesilaus tried to restore Spartan prestige by invading Mantinean territory and his heroism saved Sparta when Epaminondas penetrated Laconia that same year, and again in 362 when he all but succeeded in seizing the city. Sparta stood aloof from the general peace of 362 hoping to recover her supremacy. In order to gain money for the war Agesilaus had supported the revolted satraps; in 361 he went to Egypt at the head of a mercenary force to aid Tachos against Persia, and died, at the age of 84, on his way home.
Agesilaus was a small man, somewhat lame from birth. He was a successful leader in guerilla warfare, alert and quick, yet cau tious, and his bravery was unquestioned. He lived in the most frugal style and enriched the state and his friends with the spoils of his campaigns, returning himself as poor as he had set forth. He was sincerely patriotic; but the worst trait in his character was his implacable hatred of Thebes, which led to the battle of Leuctra and Sparta's fall from supremacy.
See lives of Agesilaus by Xenophon (the panegyric of a friend), Cornelius Nepos and Plutarch ; Xenophon's Hellenica and Diodorus xiv., xv. Among modern authorities, besides the general histories of Greece, J. C. F. Manso, Sparta (1800—o5) iii. 39 ff.; G. F. Hertzberg, Das Leben des Konigs Agesilaos 11. von Sparta (1856) ; Buttmann, Agesilaus Sohn des Archidamus (1872) ; C. Haupt, Agesilaus in Asien (1874) ; E. von Stern, Geschichte der spartanischen and thebanischen Hegem onie (1884) .